DT: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? And some highlights in your career? Please name drop (laughs).
CT: I’m a Kansas boy living the dream in the Big Apple! I completed a design mentorship with Kristin Hanson, a fancy diamond artist who last year had a piece commissioned by and featured in Vogue Italia. While I’m being featured for my debut jewelry line, TREPINSKI (which has most recently been worn by Jazz and cabaret artist, John Minnock, at Feinstein’s 54-Below and featured on BroadwayWorld.com). I’m also an NYC-based singer, actor, and dancer, who has performed alongside Tony Award nominees at New York City Center, Carnegie Hall, and Off-Broadway. A fun fact: I was assigned the same dittie bag (used to wash undergarments) at City Center as Sutton Foster and Megan Hilty when they performed there in previous seasons; so, our underwear is our degree of separation!
DT: Why is it important to have diversity in the beauty and fashion industries?
CT: Diversity in beauty and fashion is crucial because fashion is the most immediate way we express our individuality. Fashion is not exclusively for any one person; therefore, a need to have as many perspectives represented as possible is crucial. My debut pendant, Amulet – while inspired by my fundraising work for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS – appears to have many cultural and religious references. This has garnered the kind of reaction I want, where people see what speaks to them, much like an inkblot. It makes the piece more personal and powerful for the wearer, which is precisely what an amulet is- worn to harness the power and provide protection.
DT: Have you seen shifts in the last decade?
CT: Particularly in theatre, there has been a massive shift where progress has been made with diversity in casting. As for fashion, I read a blog battle over Lady Gaga’s cultural appropriation in her fashions; and, I was infuriated by the ignorance of people and their inability to understand the art of the homage. Respectfully referencing (different styles, eras, and cultures) is how fashion evolves. Fashion can be intended to make a statement, and sometimes, even meant to elicit a visceral reaction. It’s the ultimate freedom of expression.
DT: In a perfect world, what would be an ideal evolution in the industries of beauty and fashion?
CT: I thoroughly enjoy fashion that is gender-neutral- I feel men’s fashion has long been sequestered to an incredibly small box that only as of late has started to expand. I love the infusion of color and fabrics applied to traditional menswear, but I’d love to see more liberation from the traditional archetype to be accepted in everyday wear.
DT: Do you realize that your presence in the industry, inspires many people around the world?
CT: My presence is very new, so I’m not sure my scope spans across the world, but I do hope that my take on men’s jewelry inspires others to look outside the boundaries of the archetypical male and allows others to express themselves in a truly, authentic way.
DT: What advice would you give your younger self?
CT: “You are going to be challenged constantly, but you are resilient, creative, and have a beautifully unique point of view that deserves to be expressed through art.”
DT: Are you living your purpose?
CT: I feel as though I’ve been on a constant journey to find my purpose; but through it all, I’ve always found ways to express myself creatively. Perhaps, that’s what my purpose is- to create art that invokes emotion and meaning for others.
DT: Finish this sentence, “I am grateful for…”
CT: “…the use of my arms after having been injured for the better part of the past two years. I’m so grateful for all the little things I used to not be able to do for myself. I’m grateful to be able to draw again and to be able to hold and play with my niece and nephew again.”
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